JIMMY’S HALL BY GRAHAM HARRINGTON Apr02

JIMMY’S HALL BY GRAHAM HARRINGTON...

I recently viewed the 2014 film “Jimmy’s Hall” directed by Ken Loach (“The Wind that shakes the Barley,” Hidden Agenda,” “Land And Freedom.”) The film centres on the rather remarkable real-life story of Jimmy Gralton. Gralton (played by Barry Ward) was a communist political and social activist from Leitrim who was, shall we say, “disliked” by the conservative authorities in his home parish in 1930s Ireland. Gralton established a hall where young people could meet, dance, discuss topics and be educated. The local clergy viewed it as a hotspot for communist propaganda, with young people reading things such as Connolly’s “Labour In Irish History” and other Marxist texts. The local priest, Fr.Sheridan (played by yer man Bishop Brennan) rallies the local Blueshirts (a fascist movement operating in Ireland during the ’30s) and property owners against Gralton’s hall. The names of the attendees of the dances and sessions at the hall are read out at Mass, which leads to a horrific scene concerning the brutal nature of the local Blueshirt O’Keefe. At one stage, the hall is attacked and shots are even fired into it by the Blueshirts despite people being inside. The film can be seen as a case study of Ireland during this period.It was a time of polarisation, repression, transformation and uncertainty. In my favourite scene, a group of IRA men come to Gralton and ask him to use his charisma to help them support a tenant and his family who are being evicted by their landlord. There is a large crowd present and the landlord is scared off; Jimmy then makes an impassioned speech to the crowd. This scene is meant to show the opposing viewpoints of the increasingly left-leaning IRA at the time and the as ever conservative Church. Later...